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Rating: 4.5/5 (193 votes)
Comments (24) | Views (14,074)

icycle.jpgzxoGather 'round, children, and let me tell you the story of a naked man and his bicycle. Some very bad people put this man to sleep for a long time. A very long time. When he woke up, the whole earth was frozen, and he thought he must be the only human left alive on the whole planet. But wait! What's that over there? Why it's a bubble, frozen in midair! Someone else must have survived! He'd better try to find them. But how does one navigate a world frozen solid by an apocalyptic catastrophe? On a squeaky bicycle, of course!

This is the premise of Icycle, the hauntingly gorgeous platformer from UK animator-turned-gamemaker Reece Millidge. Use the [arrow] keys to accelerate and brake with the bicycle (there's no going backwards) and [up] to jump. Pedal your way across eight treacherous landscapes, following the trail of frozen bubbles in hopes of catching up to your quarry. Be sure to avoid all the sharp things, and mind the bottomless pits from which escape the wind's mighty howl! Nab as many bubbles as you can for a better score at the end.

Each level consists of several screens, which must all be navigated flawlessly, or else it's back to the beginning of the level. You wouldn't think there would be a lot of variety in the way of frozen wasteland tableaux, but Millidge puts his immense animation talents to work, supplying themes for all eight levels. You'll find yourself carving up chilly caves, flying through frozen forests, wending your way among wintry war zones, and maneuvering through moribund metropolises.

Although many of the landscapes look ready to be leaped and bounded across, you'll end up an irritated gamer if you adopt a blitzkrieg strategy. The planet may be frozen, but it certainly is not dead! Be prepared for falling rocks, floors that crumble beneath your wheels, gigantic growing ice crystals and other unpleasant surprises. Icycle should be viewed first as a platformer, but also as a light exercise in memory ‒ something along the lines of an unfair platformer, but thankfully much milder. You might suffer a few unavoidable deaths, but with careful observation you can learn to make them, um, un-unavoidable.

icycle2.jpgAnalysis: Many of you may recognize Icycle from when we featured it on Link Dump Friday. The response from the JIG community was so overwhelmingly positive that we knew we had overlooked a gem. What's more, a couple of the complaints made have been addressed: Millidge has added checkpoints to the last three levels to mitigate the difficulty, and there is now a self-destruct button in case you get stuck somewhere.

By far, the most captivating part of Icycle is the atmosphere. The premise alone was a good start; a naked guy riding a bicycle on ice? Gold. But on top of the story lies the stunning layered artwork of Millidge. It's so great, I'm happy to ignore the fact that sometimes it's hard to tell what's solid ground and what's just foreground art. Millidge clearly is one of those gifted people that not only have an impeccable eye for color, but the artistic skills to turn the palettes into a full-blown landscape.

Need more? How about all the little touches. The subtle clues of a world passed by. The howling wind. The awkward frozen pose after a crash. The forlorn calls at the beginning of each level. The fading screams as the rider falls into oblivion. The way each screen zooms in or out to accommodate the terrain. The fading iridescence of the bubbles as they freeze.

I could go on, but the point is that Millidge knows his craft down to the smallest detail, and Icycle is all the better for it. That's not to say there's no room for improvement; the controls could be better while you're riding an updraft, for example, and the physics of riding up and down hills is a bit off. Nonetheless, I have a feeling you'll be too busy enjoying the Icycle experience to notice these minor flaws.

Play Icycle


A very nice little game... I was confused by the ending, though.

Bloatedsack October 12, 2009 12:53 PM

When it was in the link dump, I got up to the

crazy, growing ice shards

until I rage-quit.

Maybe the new checkpoints will help. I enjoyed it enough to consider giving it another chance. Maybe this time I'll persevere!


I played the earlier version of this (without the checkpoints) and I /just/ finished it. It was as difficult as it could be: in several levels I felt just on the point of quitting and only just decided not to. It's like the author knew exactly how much I'd bother to go through to see the end. (The end was nothing special, by the way.)

Gorgeous and funny animation, simple controls, simple idea will implemented, lots of fun. Very frustrating on those levels where you keep dying. Don't forget to see the author's other work on his web site.

Bloatedsack October 12, 2009 1:49 PM

I made it!

Does anyone know if there is a bonus for 100%?


I got 100% in 67 deaths, and got a scarf. Same as I got last time I finished (with less than 100%). I don't know if it's any different depending on how many times you die.


Dunno. I got all the way up to the second to last screen (the one right before you're launched out of some sort of silo or barn?) when it was in Link Dump Friday before I stopped. Now that it had checkpoints (which didn't really affect me on that part - I got it on the first try this time - it just helped ease frustration on other parts), I did it. Yay!

I think I'm ranked 746 for the past week and 2000-something for all time.


I love the graphics and sounds on this and the game play isn't bad either. More please.


Great game, love it, it's very eerie and I really like the minimalism of the sound. However, am trapped at location 6 when

I get to this bit where I have to pedal across bits of ground that are rising and falling. I get through that, but then there's a big wall on the right that I'm supposed to climb, and I don't know how


Starchild, for level 6 you have to:

... use the up and down keys with the rise and fall of the wind to gain enough momentum to make it to the ledge.


The comment from Dave ('got a scarf') suggests that the number of points, or the number of lives lost controls a prize at the end. I don't think I got anything but I was concentrating on being able to finish it.

Did anyone get anything other than a scarf at the end ?


The scarf is the first prize :) If you then choose to replay, your naked guy is now wearing a scarf! You get a different prize the second time you finish, etc. The point is that you can then get him clothed if you keep finishing the game! It's kinda fun to see what he'll get next haha.

This game is fun, when it was in the link dump I played it for a whole afternoon! I'm tempted to play it some more to get even more clothes ;D Definitely a fun, addictive game. And I love the levels, the artwork and the whole sort of creepy aftermath-of-the-apocalypse atmosphere it has going on. And some of the ways you can kill naked dude are hilarious.

brokenrecord October 12, 2009 7:52 PM

Yay I'm glad this game got a full review. Kind of off topic, but do you think you'll ever review Nevermore? I was always disappointed that never got to more than Link Dump.

BuenoCabra October 13, 2009 2:41 AM

I really like the look and feel of this game. The physics were annoying at first, but they make sense once you get the hang of the game. (Side note: Where can I get tires like that? Talk about grip.)

Three annoying things:

1. The next-to-last screen

(with the rising and falling iceberg of pointy death)

is a huge jump in difficulty, if you're trying to get all the bubbles. The rest of the game has a lot to do with trial-and-error and skill, but that screen's about 81.4% lucky timing. I died three times as much there as I did the rest of the game.

2. I beat the game in Link Dump, but only got 90%. I decided to play again assuming that, since the

heart bubble grows bigger with your score,

getting a perfect 100% would make a happier ending than I got. Nope. Big let down.

3. As mentioned before, you obviously get more prizes each time you beat the game. The problem is, it doesn't save your progress. Who wants to play the same game four (six? eight?) times in one sitting? It's obvious from the comments that the game induces rage-(almost)quitting. No way I'm going to play it through again just to see if I get a hat this time. However, if it saved my progress, I might be lured back in the future. The replay value is currently nil, as there's nothing new once I finish the game. It's fun, but it's not that fun.

Otherwise, it's a great game. Original, nice art, great concept.


Nice game. Reece Millidge also did the cutesy fake intro for Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. Bizarrely, if you search on google for 'Reece Millidge series of unfortunate events', it will bring up jayisgames, as all these words appear in this review and the one's around it! *cue twilight zone music*


I agree with BuenoCabro: the part with the

rising and falling icebergs

was hard enough that I just gave up after trying at it for 15 minutes or so. Otherwise it's a very enjoyable game.

Anonymous October 13, 2009 5:50 PM

Kind of fun. First play through, got a scarf. Second, I got a shirt. Wonder what else they have.

Anonymous October 13, 2009 6:11 PM

Oooh, a hat. What, no pants?


This probably says more about me than it does about the game, but I quit again after a few screens. It's just too much of a "Do it again, stupid!"-athon.

wormington October 14, 2009 2:49 AM

So Far I have been given:











pylon hat

and then

I was hoping to get the motorbike or at least pants but nope just another pylon hat

Great game, art and music


Brilliant brililant brilliant. Well done for the proper review and a great review of it it is too. Zxo has got it just right about the gameplay...

"Although many of the landscapes look ready to be leaped and bounded across, you'll end up an irritated gamer if you adopt a blitzkrieg strategy."

It's testament to the game that I've gone back to it so much to see the artwork and hear the sound (well done Stilton Studios and Peter Hosking). The reward is just playing the game.

Make more mr millidge! (and put a Paypal donate button on your site too!)


I like to imagine that the setting of the game was caused by an incredibly successful attempt to stop global warning.


Does anyone know how to get past level 7 with the ice shards?

jrodman June 24, 2010 1:42 AM

What fantastic art design and direction, married with terrible game design.

Georgiagirl July 13, 2010 12:58 PM


I cant pass the level seven with

the ice shards!

please help me! please please please!
I cant pass the part with the

green ice shards.


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